ON THE WISE MEN’S JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM
Consider first, that the wise men were no sooner informed, by the apparition of this extraordinary star, of the birth of the great King that was to rule the world, but they set out to seek him in Judea, where they understood, by an ancient tradition and by the prophecy of Balaam, Numb. xxiv. 17, that he that was denoted by that star should be born. And as it was natural for them to expect to hear news of him in Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, they went thither to inquire after him. ‘Where is he,’ say they, (Matt. ii. 2,) ‘that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him’ But as ‘his kingdom was not of this world,’ but was to be established upon other kinds of foundations than any mortal empire – in the immortal souls of his people, and upon the ruins of worldly pride, and of all the pomps of Satan; he chose for his birth the humble stable of Bethlehem, before any of the stately palaces of Jerusalem, as being more agreeable to his kingdom, the kingdom of humility and truth. O how happy are those souls whose eyes are always open to this heavenly truth, and shut to worldly vanity and lies! How happy they who, by conforming in practice to these maxims of this great king, become themselves his kingdom; even that kingdom in which he shall reign for ever!
Consider 2ndly, how King Herod was troubled at hearing of the birth of this new king, and so was all Jerusalem with him; in which they were a figure of all such souls as are so wedded to this cheating world and its lusts, as to be more afraid of parting with them than of losing an eternal kingdom; and therefore they are troubled and disturbed when they are summoned by the messenger of heaven to arise, and leave these toys, to go and seek after Christ; and they even strive to stifle the heavenly infant that those lights and graces that offer to conduct them to him. O how much more happy were the dispositions of the wise men, who were willing at any rate to find Christ; and who gladly sought and embraced the directions of those that by their office were qualified to point him out to them? But alas! how miserable were those priest and scribes, who whilst they directed the wise men to our Saviour, took no pains to seek him themselves. See, my soul, this never be thy case.
Consider 3rdly, how the wise men, in their way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, were again favoured with the sight of the star, which both conducted them to Bethlehem, and pointed out to them the place where our Saviour was. This heavenly light filled their hearts with exceeding great joy; and going in, they found him whom their souls desired, and they paid their homage to him. O how precious, how lovely, how desirable is that light that conducts the soul to Christ! O what joy, what delight it is to the soul to see herself draw near to her God, her sovereign good! But then this heavenly manna is not usually given but to them that fight, and that conquer all the labours, difficulties, and oppositions that they meet with in the way to Christ, and who, like the wise men, are quite in earnest in seeking him. Happy they that follow this great example! Happy they that taste and see how sweet the Lord is to them that seek and find him!
Conclude to imitate the wise men, firstly, in their ready compliance with the divine call; secondly, in their diligence in inquiring after Christ; and thirdly, in their perseverance; and then you may confidently expect, like them, to find your Lord, and to rejoice in him.